Texans for Excellence in Education, a new nonprofit created to meet parents’ and school districts’ demand for an alternative to the increasingly politicized Texas Association of School Boards, made its first pitch to a potential customer since its June 1 launch.
On Monday, Executive Director Hava Armstrong presented an overview of TEE’s services to trustees in Carroll Independent School District, which decided in March to leave TASB by year end.
“For decades, TASB has had an unchecked monopoly on providing our elected school board members with critical services that impact every aspect of how they function,” Armstrong said at a press briefing following Monday night’s Carroll ISD school board meeting. “That monopoly ends now.”
Prior to TEE’s presentation, Board President Cameron Bryan noted that it would be “disingenuous” for the district to keep sending taxpayer dollars to an organization that pushes ideologies the community overwhelmingly rejected in the last three elections.
If it turns out—and I hope it doesn’t—that we are the only school district in the state of Texas willing to stand up for our community’s principles and fight the evil ideological indoctrination of our children that has been sweeping across our nation and great state, so be it.
During the informational presentation, Armstrong reviewed TEE’s offerings, including board management, district policies, legal guidance, board and staff training, legislative updates, and co-ops for energy and fuel, with other services coming online over the next few months.
TEE also offers insurance, but Carroll ISD is currently seeking a quote from another vendor.
“Policies are a big part of our organization,” Armstrong said. “Our mission is to provide policies that take politics out of the classroom and support parents’ rights,” as well as “respecting that this school board is the governing body of this district.”
“Your voters have entrusted you with that job, not us,” she said.
She emphasized that school districts own the contents of their locally adopted policies, even though TASB claims a copyright over the policy structure.
Armstrong also emphasized that TEE will focus on providing customized services to fit the needs of each independent school district.
“We will work with you and for you,” she said.
She added that TEE’s membership fee is “half of TASB’s” and said services will be continuously shopped to offer districts the best options at the best prices.
Melissa Martin, head of TEE’s training partner Innovative Teachers of Texas, spoke to the board as well.
ITTexas is a nonprofit approved by the Texas Education Agency to provide state-required training for school district administrators and board members.
“ITTexas provides training without the political agenda that’s going to offend any of your community members or parents,” Martin told Carroll ISD trustees.
Both organizations emphasized that they are nonpartisan and don’t hire lobbyists.
Several parents also spoke to the board about considering a TASB alternative.
“We don’t want an organization to use our tax dollars to pay TASB for membership and then pay lobbyists to lobby for things we don’t want,” Carroll ISD mom Jolyn Potenza told trustees.
According to Potenza, district taxpayers spent $370,000 with TASB during the 2022-23 school year.
She described some of the “liberal ideological training” courses for board members and administrators offered at TASB’s annual education conference, many of which focused on “transgender” issues.
Several elected officials also attended Monday’s board meeting and TEE briefing.
“Competition makes organizations better,” Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare said during the briefing.
“Taxpayer dollars go to TASB to work against parents,” added State Rep. Nate Schatzline, offering encouragement for school districts to consider TEE and any other non-political, parent-focused alternatives to TASB.
Schatzline co-authored legislation by State Rep. Brian Harrison (R–Midlothian) that would have prohibited school districts from contracting with taxpayer-funded lobbying organizations such as TASB. Harrison also attended Monday’s meeting and briefing.
Skeptics of TEE say they’re waiting for more details about the nonprofit organization’s financial and management structure.
“I’m encouraged to see an alternative to terrible TASB,” said Tracy Hanes, a parent-focused education advocate in Victoria ISD who watched the briefing online, adding that “thorough analysis and vetting into prospective alternatives” is required.
“Districts need to make sure they are not leaving one crony organization for another,” she said.
Other skeptics criticized TEE as having a conservative Christian bias and claimed the organization is anti-LGBTQ.
Armstrong told Texas Scorecard that since announcing the TASB alternative, TEE has received calls from all across the state and expects to present their services to more districts in the near future.
Southlake residents can contact Carroll ISD trustees about alternative vendors to TASB.